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27th Feb 2017

Manchester United players and fans clash with celebration police in ugly cup final scenes

The celebration police are always watching

Nooruddean Choudry

They’re never off-duty.

Manchester United won the EFL Cup on Sunday, thanks to a somewhat fortunate 3-2 win over a hugely unlucky Southampton side. Most neutrals – and even non-neutrals – agreed that the Saints deserved to take the game to extra time at the very least.

But there was an unfortunate by-product of the victory that cast a dark shadow over events at Wembley Stadium. The game was marred – nay irreversibly tainted – by the heinous footballing crime of over celebration. That’s right – everyone was at it.

The players were celebrating as if they’d just won a trophy or something. The fans at the stadium were celebrating like they’d spent a small fortune on travel and tickets to watch their favourite team play. And people of social media were happy too.

Now no one is saying that you can’t enjoy a victory, or indeed revel in the reflected glory of your club’s success. It’s just that, as the celebration police are there to remind us, there is a such thing as too much happiness, and needlessly excessive joy.

For us mere civilians it is sometimes hard to quantify just how much pleasure is too much, but you can rest assured that you’ll be told by the jollification cops if and when you ever cross the line from acceptable merriment to needless frolics.

In many ways they are the fourth emergency service, and they do it all for free. These committed souls scour our airwaves and timelines for any trace of extreme gratification, and alert you and others whenever there has been a euphoria breach.

Of course there’s such a thing as under-celebration too. Such behaviour – as exhibited by a very serious looking Jose Mourinho after the game – is unacceptable too. He ought to ‘show more respect’ and perhaps ‘crack a smile’. It really is a very fine line.

If the monitoring of happiness seems a little Orwellian, nothing could be further from the truth. After all, we all know that moderated fun is the best kind of fun. But perhaps there should be guidelines, painted on a wall. ‘Two handles good, three handles bad.’

A special shout goes out to the ever vigilant ‘Yer Da’ division, who are always on the look out for charismatic young black men celebrating like, well, charismatic young black men. It’s just not on and needs to be stopped at all costs.

Heaven forfend that they should culturally re-appropriate the ‘dab’ from middle-class newscasters and attention-seeking politicians. As for celebrating with hippity-hop style music and ‘urban’ dance moves, where will it all end?

Sadly, everyone associated with Manchester United Football Club was guilty on all counts of being far too joyous and delighted over the weekend. Winning the EFL Cup calls for emotions greater than the Community Shield, but not equal to the FA Cup.

It is almost as if the fans and players collectively reacted as though football is something they are emotionally and professionally invested in and reacted instinctively to living in the moment. We can’t let that happen again.

The key is not to have too much – or too little – fun. Because you know, the celebration police are always watching.